Churches warn of civil unrest if govt does not address economic challenges

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By Costa Nkomo

THE Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has warned of an uprising in the country if President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government hang on to power without addressing social and economic challenges the country is currently facing.

In a Monday statement entitled, “Three possible Models of Transition in Zimbabwe,” ZCC secretary general Reverend Kenneth Mtata warned government that chances of an all-out chaos in the country were high if the status quo was maintained.

“Maintaining the status quo is not an option at all as risks are too high and long-term effects on social cohesion, constitutional democracy and national prosperity are too high. This is not a sustainable model,” he said.

Mtata said government appeared ready to crush dissent just like it did on the 1st of August 2018 and in January 2019 when state security organs killed more than a dozen over anti-government protests.

“Instability will grow and the state will need to use heavy repression to quell dissent due to the painful economic experiences.

“There will be loss of lives due to failed social services and failure to access livelihoods,” Mtata said.

The cleric maintained dialogue in the country was the only viable option that will bear long lasting solutions to the challenges facing Zimbabweans.

“This model has the highest promise for lasting unity, justice and prosperity for the nation.

“It can equally face resistance from those who believe the incumbent regime must face justice and hence a negotiated process may limit that possibility. But if it takes off, this is the most promising and sustainable model,” he said.

Government has however understood the church’s transformational models as tantamount to inciting people to rise against it.

“Dialogue project is understandable in a democracy until it starts to border on incitement,” Information Permanent secretary Nick Mangwana wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

MDC, through its secretary for international relations, Gladys Hlatshwayo says all ingredients for a revolution to erupt in the country are present, urging Mnangagwa’s government to stop threatening churches.

“Zanu PF and the truth are like water and oil! It is not rocket science, all ingredients for a revolt are present in Zimbabwe from economic collapse and political instability to absence of elite cohesion. Nick Mangwana stop threatening the church,” she wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

Late 2019, ZCC proposed a sabbatical to elections for seven years to allow the country to focus on economic development and not the current fixation with political power.

The proposal was rejected by government.